Evil Review: Don't Watch CBS' Creepy New Drama Alone With the Lights Off

TVLine | 9/20/2019 | Dave Nemetz
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Horror has never been network TV’s strong suit. Outside of a few notable exceptions (Hannibal, The Exorcist), the big networks have been content to let cable and streaming TV dominate the darker side of horror ever since Mulder and Scully first fired up their flashlights on The X-Files. But CBS’ new fall drama Evil — premiering Thursday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c; I’ve seen the first two episodes — represents a bold step back into the genre, with a star-making performance from Katja Herbers and maybe the creepy-crawliest debut episode since the glory days of Mulder and Scully.

In fact, Herbers’ character, forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard, seems to be a proud graduate of the Dana Scully School for Skeptics. Thick-skinned and unflappable, she delves into the twisted minds of criminals for a living, working as an expert prosecution witness and treating hard facts and science like gospel. She’s investigating one accused serial killer in particular when priest-in-training David Acosta (Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter) swoops in with an out-there theory about demonic possession. Kristen roundly rejects that… until the killer attacks her while speaking in tongues.

Mulder/Scully - Dynamic - Kristen - Acosta - Cynicism

That tees up a classic Mulder/Scully dynamic between Kristen and Acosta: He challenges her stubborn cynicism, while she grounds his New Age-y mumbo jumbo. (And unlike The X-Files, the show actually acknowledges the sexual chemistry between them right away.) Together, they make a solid duo, with The Daily Show alum Aasif Mandvi providing comic relief as Acosta’s deadpan colleague Ben — which makes him the Lone Gunmen, I guess? Acosta works as an “assessor” for the Catholic Church, paid to go out and investigate unexplained phenomena, and since Kristen is strapped for cash, she reluctantly joins Acosta’s team to distinguish between the demonically possessed and the merely insane.

It’s an intriguing twist on the usual crime drama, and Herbers...
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